Some time ago, I came across the board game Legion of Honor. From the reviews I read, this seems to be basically a story-telling game that follows the career of French napoleonic officers. I never played the game (though I’d be interested in doing), but it gave me an idea for a Sharp Practice campaign game.
Star of Bravery (SoB) follows the path of two French officers, one of a regiment of the line and one of a light infantry regiment, through the 1809 campaign against Austria. Two players – Sigur and me – generate a character each. I’ve made a new officers background table for French officers, but the attributes and traits are the same as in the SP2 rule book. Each game turn consists of each player playing a scenario, with the other one as the opponent (or other people, if we find volunteers). After each scenario, a player draws an event card. I’ve devised a number of events, which allow different reactions to be taken. According to the player’s decision, a dice is rolled and the outcome is checked. Players can also duel against each other. After the event phase, a new scenario is played.
The aim of the players is to accumulate honour, which can be gained by heroic actions during a scenario or through events. Each player will play 5 individual scenarios. After those, the final scenario will put both players against a third person in a climactic battle. At the most, we will be playing 11 games, although characters may have to skip scenarios due to wounds, so it will probably be less.
Sigur started by rolling up his character and then plunged headlong into the first scenario.
Capitaine Charles Benés is the son of a lawyer who became an officer during the revolution. In secret, he still leans towards republicanism and finds Napoleon’s imperial demeanour distasteful. However, he knows that the French army is the only bulwark against the tyranny of Europe’s many kings, so he will serve dutifully. He is honourable and although of average build, he is a good-looking and charming chap. At the moment, he is commanding a company in the 2e regiment d’infanterie de ligne.
The first scenario took place at the beginning of April, when the Austrian opened the attack and caught the French somewhat wrong-footed. As Capt. Benés’ objective was to stop the Austrian onslaught, we played the Defense in Depth scenario from the rule book.
Benés deployed both his skirmishers in the woods and took the Austrian advance guard, a group of Jäger, under fire, who could not stand the concentrated fire for long. The Austrian commander Oberst Jaromir von Eynhuf deployed his main force and withdrew the shaken Jäger behind the bulk of the regulars. He also sent his skirmishers forward on the far right flank, using the building as cover.
Meanwhile, Capt. Benés had deployed his line infantry in a huge and very impressive line. In true gallic spirit, instead of waiting for the Austrians to come, he steadily led his men forward.
Von Eynhuf was somewhat rattled by this. As he had to use the troops on his left flank to guard against the pesky French Voltigeurs, who ran circles around him, he faced the French line with only three groups. The fight started in earnest with a close-range volley from the French, which caused a shocking number of casualties in the Austrian line. However, the Austrian skirmishers meanwhile had slipped behind the house and fired at the Frenchmen’s back. Unfortunately, this did not impress them much.
The skirmishers suddenly realised that he did have an objective, namely the French main deployment point! The started running towards it and there was little the French could do… Or was there? With a shout of “Vivle la France!”, Capt. Benés charged ahead of his men into the Austrian line, intent on capturing the kaiserlick’s flag. While the melee was raging, von Eynhuf threw himself in front of the flag and drew his sword. “From ze dead kold handz!” he cried as the duel commenced. Unfortunately, the Austrian Oberst got the better of the dashing Frenchman and managed to take out Benés. Realising that his small group was the only Austrians left of his line, von Eynhuf post-haste joined his men in the general rout, clutching his precious flag. The charge had reduced the Austrian Force Morale to 0 just before the Austrian skirmishers could take the Deployment Point!
Capt. Benés had done many heroic deeds: He led his men into fisticuffs and won, he took a wound and he won the engagement! This brought him a lot of honour. Surprisingly, it also brought him membership in the Légion d’Honneur! Maybe he was better connected then he let on… However, when his grievous wounds were checked, it turned out they were not that grievous. In fact, it was merely a scratch. His comrades shook their heads at those theatrics, which cost him some honour.
After the engagement, Capt. Benés marched his men through Bavaria, as Napoléon was arriving and a counter-strike at the Austrians was planned by the higher echelons of command. On the way, he met a surgeon who was trying to organise transporation for some wounded. Honourable chap that he is, Benés offered some of his men to help. This will mean that one group will arrive late to the next engagement. However, Benés has now found a friend in Hypolite Pincecourt, a very competent physician.
Will Benés simulate even more wounds now he has the service of a physician? What will his old rival, Capt. Camille Cruchon of the 24e regiment d’infanterie légère, say to Benés’ getting into the Légion d’Honneur after just one fight? Stay tuned for another episode of Star of Bravery!